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MonkeyNotes Study Guide/Summary-The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 1

Summary

His friends convey John Marcher to Weatherend. This is where May Bertram stays. Weatherend is a beautiful house with many fine things, like pictures, heirlooms, and treasures of art. The visitors in the house move about in groups and in couples, seeing and admiring the beautiful articles in the house. Marcher notices that some of these people know too much while others seem to know nothing. John Marcher feels totally out of place among them. He thus wanders alone in the great rooms and eventually comes face to face with May. He realizes that he has met her before, but he is unable to remember the meeting clearly. He feels as though this is a continuation of their earlier acquaintanceship, but he has lost the beginning. May however has not forgotten anything, but she does not readily give it to him.

Marcher presumes that May is perhaps a poor relative in the house, who is more or less a part of the establishment. May pays for her protection and security by rendering services like explaining the visitors, the details of the place, furniture, and pictures. She also tells them about the favorite haunts of ghosts. As Marcher looks at her, he realizes that May has become much older than since they last met. She is here in this house because, she has suffered a lot since the time, she last met Marcher. The readers learn that May and Marcher have remembered each other a lot during these years.


At last May and Marcher are alone in a room. Everything about Weatherend is beautiful and charming. The autumn day, the light and the colors it exudes, create a certain charm in the atmosphere. Marcher, in a confused manner, recalls his earlier meeting with May. He is however not very accurate with the details. She accurately recollects the details of their last meeting. He accepts them and she points out that the fact is that he ‘really’ does not remember a thing about her.

They linger together for sometime. Marcher finds it strange that their meeting had not culminated into anything even though he was twenty-five and she was of twenty years of age when they first met. He now feels that he ought to have rendered her some service. For instance, probably saved her bag from a beggar who had snatched it, etc. He even feels that it would have been better if he had fallen ill in a hotel, and she would have looked after him.

May reminds Marcher of something he had told her many years ago. With another woman he might have feared the recall of an imbecile offer. May tells him that she does not want to bring him back to what he was ten years ago. Marcher admits that he was an ass. She enquires whether the thing that he had then spoken about has actually happened. He is embarrassed and surprised that he had taken her into confidence. She assures him that she has not spoken about it to anyone and never will. She is sympathetic towards him.

Marcher has never been alone since the moments on the Sorrento boat. It is May who has been alone. When they met earlier, Marcher simply asked her not to laugh at him and she had not done so, for so many years. During their conversation, Marcher asserts that he had not referred to something he has to do or achieve in the world, or something for which he is to be distinguished or admired. May inquires whether he is to suffer. He apprehends that something may break out in his life, which may destroy his consciousness or destroy him. On the other hand, it may bring about a major change in his life and leave him to deal with it. She asks him whether the anticipation of the sense of danger that he is experiencing similar to what many people feel when they fall in love. He replies that he has been in love but it has not been an overwhelming feeling. May asserts that in that case it was not love.

Marcher is haunted by the apprehension of something-strange happening to him though he does not know what it will be. He pleads her not, to leave him. They both feel that his apprehension corresponds to some reality. May promises to be with him and watch what happens.

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